By DREW HOWARD
The Rochester Hills Clerk’s Office is expecting an unprecedented voter turnout for the November 6 midterm, one that could rival or even surpass that of the 2016 presidential election.
At a city council meeting on Monday, October 22, City Clerk Tina Barton said her office has processed 11,600 absentee ballots to date. That’s about 900 ballots more than what the office saw for the 2016 presidential election on the same date, Barton said.
This year’s midterm is also seeing a much higher return rate on absentee ballots (50 percent) than the 2016 presidential election (34 percent) at this time.
The city will be utilizing a number of new strategies in preparation for a possibly record-breaking midterm turnout, the first being the implementation of QR codes at polling locations for voters with smartphones.
“We created QR codes that are specific to every single precinct so that a voter can walk up to precinct door, scan the QR code, and their sample ballot will pull up for that precinct,” Barton said. “While they’re waiting in line, which is possibly going to happen, they can look over their sample ballot.”
Similar to a presidential election, Barton said the city has hired extra workers to move lines along and will implement privacy voting booths at polling locations. “We’re prepared for all the voters,” she said. “We’re really proud of how Rochester Hills is turning out to vote, and the attention it’s grabbing across the country.”
Rochester Hills will also participate in the state’s pilot of a new risk-limiting election audit. Only two other cities – Kalamazoo and Lansing – are being included in the pilot.
The audit is described as a comprehensive check that uses statistical methods to confirm whether reported election results are correct, according to a press release, and detect possible anomalies that may need further scrutiny due to human error or possible manipulation.
“With this pilot of risk-limiting audits, Michigan further bolsters its reputation as a national leader in election security and integrity,” Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said in a press release. “With our new election equipment and secure voter file, and now with our pilot of risk-limiting audits, we are well ahead of other states in strengthening election integrity.”
Voters are being reminded that unlike Michigan’s primary election this September, midterm ballots will not feature a straight party option. “Please look over your ballot if you plan on voting at the polls,” Barton encouraged voters. “You’re going to have a lot of races to vote in. And make sure you turn your ballot over because there are a lot of important items on the back of the ballot as well.”